The year of PC AI

Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadella speaks at a Microsoft live event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, October 26, 2016.

Lucas Jackson | Reuters

MicrosoftBuild’s developer conference will kick off on Tuesday, giving the company a chance to showcase its latest artificial intelligence projects, following highlight events this month led by OpenAI and Google.

One area where Microsoft has a distinct advantage over other competitors in the AI ​​race is its ownership of Windows, which gives the company a huge base of PC users.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speak January 2024 will mark the year when AI will become “a first-class part of every PC.”

The company already offers its Copilot chatbot assistant in the Bing search engine and in its Office productivity software for a fee. Now, PC users will learn more about how AI will be embedded into Windows and what they can do with it on the new AI PC.

Construction took place a few days later Google I/Owhere the search giant has revealed The most powerful AI model yet and shows how its Gemini AI will work on computers and phones. Before Google’s event, OpenAI announced new model GPT-4o. Microsoft is a major investor in OpenAI and its Copilot technology is based on OpenAI models..

For Microsoft, the challenge is twofold: staying prominent in the AI ​​space and boosting PC sales, which have been in the doldrums over the past two years following an upgrade cycle during the pandemic.

In a recent note about Dell As for investors, Morgan Stanley analyst Erik Woodring wrote that he remains “optimistic about the PC market’s recovery” due to comments from customers and “advanced revisions to PCs.” portable” recently built by the original design manufacturer (ODM).

Technology industry researcher Gartner estimates PC shipments rose 0.9% in the quarter after years of decline. Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said demand for PCs was “a little better than expected.” quarterly earnings called last month.

AI startups like OpenAI are starting to monetize their cutting-edge technology

Microsoft’s new AI tools could offer another reason for business and consumer customers to upgrade their older computers, whether they’re made by HPDell or Lenovo.

“While Copilot for Windows does not directly drive monetization, we believe it will drive Windows adoption, Windows engagement, customers with more powerful PCs at higher prices (and thus generating more revenue for Microsoft per device) and possibly search revenue.” Bernstein analysts wrote in a note to investors on April 26, the day after Microsoft reported earnings.

While Microsoft will provide software to handle some of the AI ​​tasks sent to the internet, its computers will be powered by chips from Microsoft. AMD, Intel And Qualcomm for offline AI jobs. For example, that could include using your voice to ask the Co-Pilot to summarize the transcription without a connection.

What is PC AI?

The key hardware addition to PC AI is called a neural processor. NPUs go beyond the capabilities of traditional central processing units (CPUs) and are designed to specifically handle artificial intelligence tasks. Traditionally, they are used by companies such as Apple to enhance photos and videos or for voice recognition.

Microsoft hasn’t said what PC AI will be capable of without an internet connection. But Google’s PIxel 8 Pro phone, which doesn’t have a full computer processor, can summarize and transcribe audio recordings, suggest text message responses, and more using Gemini Nano AI .

Computers powered by Intel’s latest Lunar Lake chips with dedicated NPUs are expected to launch in late 2024. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips with NPUs will be available mid-year, while , the latest AMD Ryzen Pro is expected to launch this quarter.

Intel speak the chips enable things like “real-time language translation, automated inference, and enhanced gaming environments.”

Apple has been using NPUs for years and recently highlighted them in its new report. M4 chip for iPad Pro. The M4 chip is expected to debut on the next line of Macs this year.

Windows on the arm

QualcommUnlike Intel And AMDChip supply is provided by Arm-architecture based. One of Microsoft’s sessions will be about “The Next Generation of Windows on Arm,” which will likely cover how Windows runs on Qualcomm chips and how it differs from Intel and AMD versions of Windows.

Intel still controls 78% of the PC chip market, followed by AMD with 13%, according to recent data data from Canalys.

In the past, Qualcomm has promoted Snapdragon Arm computers by touting longer battery life, thinner designs, and other benefits like cellular connectivity. But previous versions of Qualcomm’s chips were limited in what they offered consumers. For example, in 2018, the company’s Snapdragon 835 chip cannot run most Windows applications.

Microsoft has since improved Windows to handle traditional apps on Arm, but many questions remain. The company even has one Frequently asked questions page Exclusively for computers running on ARM hardware.

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